3rd July 2019. 3 stars.
The story started with such promise as a serial killer mystifies the police with his bizarre and seemingly random murders. Then the name of disgraced detective, Washington Poe, is found carved into the chest of one of the victims and the stage is set for a maverick cop to pursue a maverick killer.
But the thrills faded fast as the story and investigation slowed and became pedestrian, almost grinding to a halt at one point as Poe and co struggled to make sense of it all. Only the beautifully characterised Tilly Bradshaw, a genius who’s socially awkward, seemed to light up the story as she crunched data, surprised people with her forthright manner, and developed into a loyal and memorable sidekick to Poe.
Poe on the other hand seemed far-fetched and fanciful to me. I love a maverick as much as the next reader, but he seemed to go too far, usurping his boss, who was little more than a bystander for most of the story. Poe was allowed to insult, belittle and aggravate almost every police officer and important person involved in the investigation because he was brilliant, and the only person who could solve the case.
While the author produced a well-woven and crafted mystery, the range of suspects was small and the motive fairly straightforward to deduce, which allowed me to work out the killer’s identity before the story reached its climax.
The Puppet Show is well-written and easy to read. All the loose ends are tied up neatly and justice is eventually done. I love Tilly Bradshaw, but I’m afraid it’s not enough to make the story light my fire.
A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless. When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of . . .
Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant, but socially awkward, civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.
As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive …